Centre for Vision and Hearing Research (CVHR)

OVERVIEW:  

Members are interested in the fundamental workings of the normal human visual and auditory systems. The primary aim is to understand how sensory data is picked up and encoded to build meaningful representations of the outside world upon which we can act. Two central aspects of this are (1) understanding the processes of perception—the subjective experience of seeing and hearing—and (2) understanding the processes of visual and auditory performance—the limits to what can be done in audio and visual tasks. Research techniques include psychophysics, neural imaging, computational modelling and virtual reality.

General Interests

Members are interested in the fundamental workings of the normal human visual and auditory systems. The primary aim is to understand how sensory data is picked up and encoded to build meaningful representations of the outside world upon which we can act. Two central aspects of this are: (1) understanding the processes of perception—the subjective experience of seeing and hearing—and (2) understanding the processes of visual and auditory performance—the limits to what can be done in audio and visual tasks. Research techniques include psychophysics, neuroimaging and computational modeling.

Visual illusions such as this (the horizontal lines are parallel) can provide insights into the computational processes of the human visual brain.
Visual illusions such as this (the horizontal lines are parallel) can provide insights into the computational processes of the human visual brain.

Specific Interests

These include: age-related macular degeneration (Anderson), amblyopia (Anderson, Holliday, Meese), auditory grouping and scene analysis (Roberts), binocular vision (Georgeson, Meese), blur perception (Georgeson), cochlea implants (Morse), contrast gain control (Georgeson, Meese), depth perception (Georgeson, Meese), edge detection (Georgeson, Meese), face perception (Boutsen, Meese), gaze perception (Meese, Kessler), object recognition and categorization (Boutsen, Juttner), optic flow (Anderson, Holliday, Meese), perceptual organization of speech (Roberts), peripheral vision (Anderson, Meese), psychophysical techniques (Georgeson, Meese, Morse, Roberts), saccadic eye-movements (Juttner), social cognition/vision (Kessler, Meese), visual attention (Anderson, Kessler), visual cognition (Juttner, Kessler).

How Many Cubes
We see four cubes (top) because this is the most likely interpretation of the retinal image from that vantage point. The other two views show that this best guess is wrong: in fact there are only three.

Strategic developments

The CVHR is spearheading a new collaborative and synergistic venture with members from three other centres and groups at Aston (Aston Brain Centre [ABC]Aston Research Centre for Healthy Aging [ARCHA] and Aston Interactive Media [AIM]) to bring together researchers with an interest in immersive and interactive technologies. This will extend our understanding of basic visual, motor, and auditory processes, but also bring our understanding of the interplay between action and perception into new light.  

We have added virtual reality technology, treadmills, and dedicated TMS, TACS and EEG systems to existing technologies for motion capture and driving simulation in building the Aston Laboratory for Immersive Virtual Environments (ALIVE). This is a unique facility in Europe, being the only one to directly combine immersive virtual reality room (CAVE) and neuroimaging technologies with investigative techniques and protocols from experimental psychology and psychophysics. Projects are being developed in several areas including: social cognition and neuroscience; depth and size perception; peripheral vision, attention and navigation, in typical, infant, elderly and clinical populations (e.g. autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, optical deficiencies).

Please contact Tim Meese (t.s.meese@aston.ac.uk) for further details and information about positions at all levels in ALIVE.

This venture also has strong links with other groups at: the University of Birmingham (Dr Jason Braithwaite and Professor Ian Apperly), the University of Bristol (Dr Ute Leonards and Dr Casimir Ludwig) and the University of Warwick (Professor Stephen Butterfill).

Paradigm animals
Example of a one-in-three selection task: Participants have to recognise the correct visual depiction of the animal out of three alternatives.

Funding

Research funding has come from: